On May 9, faculty and students from Villanova’s Department of Mechanical Engineering hosted 280 students, coaches and mentors for the 2015 Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) PA Regional Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Challenge. Twenty-eight teams of elementary, middle school, high school, home school, and community college students from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland and Washington D.C. competed in this year’s underwater robotics competition that focused on the use of ROVs in scientific research and the offshore oil industry in the extreme environment of the Arctic Ocean. Under the guidance of Professor C. Nataraj, PhD; Associate Professor Garrett Clayton, PhD; and Assistant Professor Jim O’Brien, Villanova students designed and set up the courses and facilitated the event.
Held annually, the MATE PA Regional ROV Challenge encourages students to learn and apply science, technology, engineering and math skills as they develop underwater robots to complete missions that simulate real-world problems from the ocean workplace. Given this year’s Artic theme, students were challenged to pilot their ROVs under a simulated ice sheet where they counted and sampled organisms, deployed scientific instruments and collected iceberg data. They also piloted their ROVs to inspect pipelines and test deep-sea oilfield equipment. In addition to their ROV missions, teams created and presented a technical report and a poster or marketing display. Local industry professionals and university faculty and graduate students volunteered as judges for the competition.
MATE PA is one of 24 regional contests held around the world and managed by the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center. The winning teams earn the opportunity to compete in MATE’s 14th annual international ROV competition, which will be held June 25-27, 2015 at the Marine Institute of Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
From MATE PA, these first and second place teams are eligible for the international competition:
1st: Excelsior Home School, Allentown, Pa.
2nd: High Technology High School, Lincroft, N.J.